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I have a 2002 Saturn SL1. Last Fall I noticed a dinging sound when the engine is running. The frequency doesn’t seem to change with speed or gear. It is most noticeable when the drivers side window is open. I forgot about it because I didn’t drive it very much. I was out of town a lot this fall and winter

It works fine. My mechanic inspected it and can’t find the cause. My son-in-law (who repairs race cars) replaced the serpentine belt. He also couldn’t find a problem. Any one out there who might know why a Saturn dings? Sounds like a bell (like the one on a hotel registration desk). Is something going to go very bad??

What is the frequency of the dinging (e.g. 1 per second)?

You say it dings when the engine is running and it’s not relative to car speed or engine rpm, correct?

I assume the car must be moving for it to ding, right?

It dings whenever the engine is running. The car doesn’t have to be moving. It might be a little slower than one per second. I expected a rapid increase when I accelerate , but this didn’t happen. There is a a slight increase; not as much as I expected. At first I thought it was the heater fan, but it dings when the fan is in the off position. It seems weird to me. My old refrigerator sounded like this at times. It makes me think that something (like a metal chain) is loose and bouncing on something. You can’t really hear it very well inside the car. I only noticed it when I had the window open. If I try hard I can hear it in the car with the windows closed.

Perhaps it’s the seatbelt warning system dinging because it thinks your belt isn’t engaged. Could it be that you have something in the passenger seat that the system is sensing as a passenger?

Probably not the seat belt, but I will try hooking it up anyway. The normal Seat belt ding does not require me to open the window to hear it. The sound is coming from underneath. Haven’t done this yet, but I will start it put it in idle and try to figure out where its coming from. One mechanic wanted to tear apart stuff to locate the sound. I don’t want to pay for all that labor if it isn’t a real problem. Could it be something with the transmission or a loose belt or the security alarm system? When you open the hood everything is covered up so its difficult to detect a small problem. (I like the old cars better) As I said before, the car is working fine.

Have you started the car, let it idle, and then just gotten out to listen? Pop the hood and listen under there too. If the sound is hard to pinpoint use a small piece of some kind of hose as a makeshift stethoscope.

Sometimes it’s the key ring. Other times it’s an exhaust system noise or something loose that hits something else.

We did that today. It was nice and warm outside (almost 40). We popped the hood and my daughter watched and listened. I started the car and put it in neutral. She could hear the ding right away and she described it as a ding as well. I revved the engine a little. She had the same observation as I did. There was very little change in the sound or the frequency of the sound. The sound is coming from the general area of the belt systems. Passenger side between fluid reservoir and the engine. She thought it came from a location between the two belt systems. Sounds like something is loose. Or a loose nut jostling around. The belts look OK. You cannot see the area where the sound seems to be.

None of the obvious things apply. If something is loose, it is hidden. Back to square one I guess. I hoped that someone else had this problem before I spent big bucks to have things pulled apart. I have a very limited budget. My plan is to wait until something breaks, then get it fixed.

After we traced the sound to the area near the pulley system, I took the car back to my son-in-law’
He suggested that a bearing in the tensioner might be loose. the next day I purchased a tensioner
He replaced it. The ding is GONE!! thanks for all the help.